More in Category: Writing Activities

Teaching Freedom of the Press in Middle School Language Arts Class

Freedom of the press – it’s such an important and timely topic – and has been ever since the beginning of our country, back when one-page broadsides read aloud on the main street kept citizens informed. Today with an infinite number of pages and screens full of information, it is still just as important – […]

Teaching Writing Skills at the Sentence Level

Middle schoolers are NOT too old to work on writing at the sentence level. In fact, sentences can be perfect for teaching more advanced writing skills like revising and editing! There are lots of ways to do this. Single sentence lessons can be planned for studying mentor sentences, for writing practice, and for editing skills […]

Parts of Speech Charts

Here are two useful classroom charts about the parts of speech. One includes basic information about each part of speech, and the other one has sample sentences. Post them side by side on your classroom wall as a handy reference, or give copies to each student for their language arts notebook. Today, parts of speech […]

Subject-Verb Agreement for Big Kids

A singular subject takes a singular verb.  A plural subject takes a plural verb.  So simple, right? Then why is subject-verb agreement such a troublesome topic to teach to middle graders?   And, no, the answer doesn’t have to do with middle graders themselves and their study habits (That’s a whole other subject.)!  It has […]

Winter Holidays Activities

  For the winter holidays there is so much fun classroom stuff to choose from that sometimes finding just what you are looking for can be a daunting task.  Like many teachers, I changed some of my holiday activities each year, but also over the years, certain activities and resources became my favorites.   I’ve […]

Task Cards for Big Kids

  As a middle school teacher, I knew that it was important to incorporate movement into my lessons – to let out some of that boundless middle school energy.  But I could also see that movement could get distracting really fast, especially too much movement.   That’s why, whenever I create a new set of […]

Writing Skills Round Up

Writing Skills Round-Up

Writing skills is such a big topic, there are so many ways to approach it, and unlike some other language arts topics, it can be taught in a variety of sequences.  Probably that’s why teachers spend a lot of time organizing and reorganizing their writing lesson plans. Over the past several years, I’ve written a […]

Teaching Capitalization and Punctuation with Task Cards

  When kids practice capitalization and punctuation by proofing their own writing, they get to actually apply what they know.  That’s a great way to learn!  But even a high level activity like this one has its drawbacks.  Certain capitalization and  punctuation topics just don’t come up frequently in student writing – at least not […]

Invent a Character, Invent a Setting

Invent a Character, Invent a Setting

    Do you teach story elements at the beginning of the year?  Review at mid-year?  Teach them bit by bit throughout a semester?  However you teach story elements, they’re sure to take up a good chunk of your Language Arts teaching time!  So it makes senses to get as much bang for the buck […]

Teaching Proofreading with Task Cards

Teaching Proofreading with Task Cards

  Proofreading is not easy for kids!  When we proofread our own work as teachers, we are often looking for typos – errors are easy to find – but for kids it’s different.  Kids often don’t know that they’ve made errors – they wrote in the way that they thought was correct in the first […]

Two Points of View Writing Activity

  Media literacy lessons pair really well with writing activities based on point of view.  Students can critically read a media post or article and identify the author’s point of view and then  work on determining the opposite point of view and using that as a topic for a short writing assignment.   Sometimes it […]

Descriptive Text Structure and Revising – Pairing Reading and Writing Topics

  The descriptive text structure seems to be the one that is often overlooked, and that is a shame because there are so many fun and interesting lessons that you can do with descriptive writing.  Teaching students to take note of this text structure prepares them perfectly for working to add more description to their […]

Free Back to School Resources

Free Teaching Resources for Language Arts and Reading Back to School

  For many teachers, it’s about that time – time to start collecting materials, buying new supplies, searching for free resources, and sorting through old stuff to see what will will work for the upcoming year.  Back to school instruction may look different this year that it did last (in a way isn’t that how […]

Summer Review Activities

Summer Practice

  It’s that time of year – time to round up some simple, easy to use resources for kids to take home for summer practice.  Maybe your kids (or their parents) want some review work to take home.  Maybe you are required to send home some practice work to help students keep their skills current. […]

Poems for Kids to Write

Poems for Kids to Write

  Do kids really need to write poetry?  To me, that is the wrong question.  The more important question is how can writing poems help kids to meet their language arts goals?  And the short answer to that is there are LOTS of ways poetry can help boost a kids language abilities.  For instance:   […]

New Year's Writing Resolutions

New Year’s Resolutions for Young Writers

  A column in the Washington Post about New Year’s resolutions for the media led to this idea for a beginning-of-the-year writing lesson for January.  The column, “Here are four suggested New Year’s resolutions for the media,” in the December 31, 2019 Post, proposed resolutions for journalists such as to spend more time reporting what […]

Subject-Verb Agreement Difficulties?

  The basic rule of subject-verb agreement is hard enough to explain to kids!  A singular subject takes a singular verb – but a singular verb looks like a plural noun because it ends with an -s, and a plural noun takes a plural verb – but a plural verb looks like a singular noun […]

Autumn Activity Sheets for Free

Autumn Activity Sheets for Free

  This Autumn Sampler is my freebie of the season.  It’s a set of three autumn-themed activity sheets with a little bit of reading, writing, and vocabulary practice on each one.  I call it a “sampler” since each activity is one little part from one of my larger resources, and this week just seemed like […]

Free Proofreading Chart

Proofreading Chart

  Here is a free chart of proofreading rules.  It includes basic rules for run-on sentences and fragments, grammar, capitalization, punctuation, and spelling – the rules that middle school and upper elementary kids need to check for repeatedly.   Download a copy below and post it on your classroom wall or make a copy for […]

Task Cards - a Go-To Resource

Task Cards – A Go-To Resource for Middle Grades Teachers

For a class of middle grade kids who love to work in groups and love to move around the room, task cards can be your go-to resource.  They are so handy to have around and pull out throughout the year as needed. And task cards work great for any language arts skills – reading, writing, […]

Freedom of the Press - Quote Activities

Freedom of the Press – Quote Activities

  Freedom of the press is a topic that is both timely and perennial as a subject for classroom activities.  Whether in language arts, reading, or social studies class, a discussion of freedom of the press can lead into all kinds of great reading and writing lessons as well as friendly debates!   As I […]

Writing a Group Narrative

Writing a Group Narrative

  A group writing lesson is a great activity for adding a little fun and class participation into a topic that is usually done on a more individual basis.  Group writing can be done as a whole class or in small groups; either way provides an engaging lesson for middle school or upper elementary kids. […]

Connotations - Sometimes You Need to Know Exactly What Was Said!

Connotations – Sometimes It’s Important to Know Exactly What Was Said!

  Connotations – it’s a tricky subject!  But luckily middle schoolers and upper elementary kids are good at understanding connotations in their own gossipy way!  Now they just need to apply that vocabulary skill to academic activities rather than just decoding the word nuances in a typical “he said . . . she said . […]

Ten Ideas for Teaching Figurative Language and Imagery

Ten Ideas for Teaching Figurative Language and Imagery

Figurative language and imagery!  Teaching these concepts can be a fun part and a dreaded part of the language arts curriculum – all at the same time!  Kids in middle school and upper elementary are still much more comfortable with writing whatever comes to their minds rather than working slowly to craft language, and so […]

Proofreading - Improving Their Skills

Proofreading – Improving Their Skills

  Proofreading means different things to different kids.  For some it may just mean adding punctuation at the end of their sentences and capital letters at the beginning.  Others may spend most of their proofreading time getting their spelling right.  And others will be checking for various types of simpler or more complex grammar points. […]

revising - Make It Work in the Middle Grades

Revising – Make It Work in the Middle Grades

  As adults, before we finish writing something we may know that we want to make this or that type of changes in order for the finished piece to sound the way we want it to.  But for kids, finishing that first draft is a big accomplishment in itself.  As far as revising, kids may […]

Prewriting - Make It Work for Your Kids

Prewriting – Make It Work for Your Kids

  By the middle grades, kids know that prewriting is the first step of the writing process, but do they really understand why they have to do it?   In one form or another, prewriting means jotting down ideas before beginning to write a story or essay in sentences and paragraphs, and doing some good […]

The Writing Process - Again?

The Writing Process – Again?

Writing to a prompt, writing without a prompt, quick writes, and full writings using all the steps of the writing process – as an English teacher, you’ll probably have your kids doing many of these activities repeatedly throughout the school year. By middle school or the upper elementary grades, kids have learned the basic ideas […]

Memorial Day Poetry Templates

  Here are free templates for two Memorial Day Poems that middle school or upper elementary students will enjoy completing as the end of the school year approaches.   Memorial Day, observed on the last Monday in May, is celebrated in two ways.  It is a holiday in honor of soldiers who died in the […]

Take a Virtual Vacation

  At a certain time of year, students and teachers alike are daydreaming about summer getaways.  Maybe your perfect vacation would be a trip to one of the great old cities of Europe.  Maybe it would be days of quiet hiking in the mountain air.  Kids are thinking ahead to family trips or imagining adventures […]

Revising- Quick Practice on Specific Skills

  To follow up on my last-week’s post about teaching kids to revise, here is some more specific information about  my revising resources designed especially for quick practices on specific revising skills.   Revising Task Cards  Revising Task Cards is a set of 30 large task cards, with plenty of content on each card for […]

Teaching Kids to Revise Their Writing

  Just getting started on writing an essay takes a big effort for many kids (and adults), so it’s no wonder that once they put the period after the final sentence, students can be reluctant to make any changes. Revising, in other words, is a challenge – both to do and to teach!   To […]

Improving Writing Skills at the Sentence Level

Getting kids to improve their own compositions can be difficult, maybe because they sometimes don’t know where to start.  If your kids could use some review of writing interesting sentences or revising at the sentence level, here are a few ideas. How about working with one part of speech at a time.  Give students sentences […]

Introducing Vivid Verbs with Favorite Picture Books

  Continuing with my ideas for using picture books to introduce various language arts topics, I’ve been looking over some more books for good examples of writing with vivid verbs. And as always, the picture books didn’t disappoint!  I’ll just mention two that have really good examples, Animal Poems by Valerie Worth and Gorky Rises […]

Inauguration Writing Prompts and Discussion Questions

  With the inauguration of the next president quickly approaching and many teachers planning patriotic lessons of one kind or another, I would like to offer a few writing prompts (or discussion questions) for the occasion.  These prompts are each based on a quote from President Obama’s farewell address to the country.   Quotes about […]

Task Cards for Background Writing Skills

  As important as it is for kids to write and write some more, sometimes you also want them to practice their background skills so that they can incorporate them in their writing more fluently.  Kids can always use more practice on skills like working with parts of speech and using the mechanics or writing […]

The Summer Slide

What to Do About the Summer Slide?

    The summer slide, of course, is that step backwards in their literacy skills that kids take during the summer while they are enjoying a break from school and having fun in the sun, but there are a number of ways to combat this phenomenon.  Some kids enjoy reading during the summer and keep […]

Writing Prompts for Snowy Days

Could you use a few writing prompts for your students’ journals, maybe for when you go back after a snow holiday?  Here are a couple of ideas for this frosty time of year. Snow Scene Describe how the view around your home changes when there is a big snowfall.  Write about what you see before […]

Opening Lines-Examples in Picture Books 3 – Hint at What’s to Come

  Picture books provide great examples for students of beginning sentences.  In my last two “Opening Lines” posts, I wrote about beginning sentences that introduce the setting and beginning sentences that introduce the main character.  This time, I’ll show you some examples of opening lines that hint at what’s to come.  Like the others, this […]

Opening Lines: Examples in Picture Books 2 – Introduce a Character

    Last week I wrote about using opening lines from favorite picture books as examples for students of different ways to begin a story or an essay.  The problem was that there were so many choices I couldn’t narrow it down to enough for one blog post.  So, “Opening Lines” is now a series […]

Task Cards Designed for the Middle Grades, Including a FREEBIE

    These task cards are all designed specifically for the middle grades – four through seven.  There is more content per card than on the typical elementary school task cards, so kids still get to move around when you’re doing an activity, but they also will spend a few more minutes on each card […]

Planning to Write with Story Dice

    These story dice look like a fun resource for introducing narrative writing.  The set that I’m looking at here are called StoryTime Dice, and they’re from Imagination Generation, but there are a number of different choices from various companies.  This set had dice for: • heroes •villains •settings •vehicles •tools •obstacles •and prizes […]

Narrative, Informative, and Opinion Prompts

  This summer, I’ve completely redone my writing prompt resources.  Parts of my former writing prompt PowerPoints are now combined into one, Narrative Writing Prompts.  Two new writing prompt resources, Informative/Explanatory Writing Prompts and Opinion/ Argument Writing Prompts are now completed also.   Each PowerPoint includes 25 prompts, each on an individual slide with student […]

Persuasive Prompt with a Fun Finish

    For an end-of-the-year writing assignment with a fun follow-up, try this persuasive writing activity.   Step 1  – Divide into Groups Tell the class that it’s time to review some vocabulary from this year, but that you can’t decide which type of review game to play – hangman (or whatever less-violent name you […]

Picture Prompts Guest Post

  Check out my guest post on One Stop Teacher Shop.  It’s all about ways to use pictures to get kids motivated to write – ideas for using your own  photos, picture books, and photos from news sources.  See suggestions for ways to use these pictures to get kid started writing narrative, informational, and persuasive […]

Learning about Tone and Voice

Kids first learn about speaking in different tones by listening to the responses of the people they are talking to. They learn that certain tones are appropriate for certain situations and that different tones get different reactions. Learning to use various tones in writing is much more difficult because those cues from a listener are […]